Monday, February 25, 2008

Still Waiting for Spring

I really look forward to the Spring Rowan magazine every year. It heralds the fact that Winter has reached about the half way point and reminds me that any casting on from here on in should be for warm weather projects. Julie sent my Rowan out to me on Feb. 1 and I received it as I was shoveling the driveway with freezing rain crystallizing on my glasses. I'll come clean here and state that I think this issue of Rowan was a big miss for them. It was technically adequate in most places but it lacked - emotion. My grandmother used to point out how some musicians could bang out a tune on the piano while others had a "nice touch". That makes all the difference.

Rowan 43 has three "stories". They've given them fancy names but I think of them as "Cavorting in the Gardens", "Grunge" and "Katie Couric discovers Pentax".

The grouping of Kid Silk Haze garments is pretty. I do love this lacy tee. This pink cardigan has wonderful eyelet detailing along the seams.

This appeals to my inner Stevie Nicks.

I applaud Sharon Miller for continuing to re invent the shawl issue after issue.

On the grunge side, this black crochet wrap cardigan has some cool beading. I hope someone on Ravelry makes this.

This last grouping is positioned as "London in the sixties and seventies". The styling just isn't clicking for me.

This reminds me of a toilet paper roll cover.

Kaffe rocks and I bet this would really shine if shown with a red T-shirt and a pair of jeans. The dress underneath seems like a blah styling choice.

I would wager that Rowan deems an issue a success if people buy lots of their yarn because they're inspired by the issue. It's also been suggested that alot of the creative attention has already shifted to the 30th anniversary issue due out this fall. As always, I will love seeing real knitters make this stuff and post their pictures on line so we can really see the garments.

Perhaps in six months I should report on those designs we dismissed a bit too early. If you see any diamonds in the rough here - let me know.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sheepless in Seattle

I realize I've been a wee bit MIA. I had 4 editorial deadlines bearing down on me early February and then the Internet went down on us. It's been 2.5 weeks of negotiating with Ma Bell as to whether it's our phone line or not. Trust me - it's the phone line. I hear crackling when I call people. I'll have to type this post quickly as this connection may be gone in a heart beat.

The other big news is that I went to the Madrona Winter Retreat last week in Tacoma Washington. Five glorious days of spinning, knitting and shopping for fibre related products. I met up with Vanessa, Diane, Hope, Jessica, and a host of other great knitters. The company was as great as the program.

The trip out was a bit hairy since a raging snow storm hit Toronto right about the time I was preparing to leave for the airport. Barreling down a runway in a blizzard ain't for the faint of heart but we made it to Seattle safely. Imagine a hotel with comfy sofas and a long fireplace crawling with knitters every where. Yes, we'd all found our tribe.

I spent two days taking a class with Kathryn Alexander on energized singles. My Kromski Sonata fit nicely into the hard sided suitcase I bought and traveled with no ill effects. Kathryn Alexander is truly a creative genius. Her sense of colour, shape and innovation leave me feeling rather inept but hopeful that I can expand my horizons. After class I tried on one of her designs and Hope tried it on too. It's a cute jacket - a sassy happy little design. I may just treat myself to this one for getting through winter.

I spent a half day with Judith (I could listen to her talk all day) MacKenzie McCuin. She has an avid fan base and I can see why. She gave a 1/2 day on wild textures and I was able to try my hand at boucle and novelty yarns. I don't tend to knit with these but there are times when they make great embellishments so knowing how to make them is kind of cool. She was the key note speaker at the banquet on Saturday night and I really found her story about the Bison very interesting. She's producing a Bison yarn that is so wonderfully soft. Very expensive but lucious in every way. The red colourway is amazing.

I picked up some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Laci in the Thraven colourway to make the Irtfa shawl from Knitspot. Vanessa's is to die for. The Thraven is a rich black with a fly green colour woven through it. Yummm.

I had Saturday afternoon to myself to walk the market. I snagged some Schaefer Miss Priss in the Mr. Green Jeans colourway to make Mr. Green Jeans. I also got an amazing glass button from Michael and Sheila Ernst which matches perfectly.

About 2 blocks away from the hotel sits a lovely little bakery. When you see a sign like this - it about sums up the opportunity.

Hello Cupcake - goodbye skinny jeans. The Red Velvet and Mocha Chocolate cup cakes were my favourites.

A great location. Beautiful yarn, exciting workshops, knitting and wonderful company. I know it was a great vacation because I keep re playing it in my head. Oh, and yes - I've already mentally booked the time off again next year!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Red Carpet Knitting

I had the pleasure of taking Susanna Hansson's Bohus knitting class this past Saturday. My buddy Stephannie predicted that the first thing we would learn is how to pronounce Bohus and sure enough - we discovered it's Bow (rhymes with low) Hoose (rhymes with goose). The seminar takes you through the history of these designs which would be considered artisan garments by any standards. The Shetland stranded knitting was all about warmth and production speed while Bohus was all about detail, luxury and the rich and famous.

I was intrigued to learn that amongst those women who owned these sweaters were both Princess Grace and Ingrid Bergman. What girl wouldn't want to be like those two classic beauties? They personify the Bohus "Euro-elegance" perfectly. Seeing these garments up close was such a treat. As Steph and I hovered over one particularly beautiful article analyzing the construction I looked at her and said "Do you think someday knitters will be looking at our stuff like this?" I'm guessing that in my case the answer is no but it does make me more inclined to correct those mistakes instead of bashing on through. I'd hate to be the slide on a presentation down the road marked "lazy novice knitter".

I have Wild Apple stashed and part of my objective on Saturday was to gain perspective that would allow me to truly do this project justice. I had a chance to see Steph's Grey Mist up close and it just GLOWS. The workshop includes materials and pattern to make a pair of wristlets in the Blue Shimmer pattern. My next Bohus will likely be a cardigan version of the Blue Shimmer. The main body is done in a pale blue - very sophistocated.

We both fell hard for this lovely design called Lemon. The main colour is a beautiful greeny-yellow with a collar including golds, pinks, creams and sage green. Steph and I both really liked the colour and it really suits her.

Here's a close up of The Swan - a new design just released by Solveig Gustafsson. She's the master dyer behind these kits. This older swatch used browns and greys but I think the recently released version uses blacks too.

This swatch in blue and green caught my eye too. The blue is quite electric. I'm told the design was called "Blue Light"...not blue light special or Blue Lite as in the FAB (festive adult beverage).

In my stashing quest for quality over quanitity - these sweaters fit the bill. I will probably take liberties with the shaping to make it more contemporary as other knitters have by adding waist shaping and a hemmed bottom but that glowing collar will definitely stay untouched.

I will also feel like a princess.